Seattle Parks’ 2022 Pickleball Public Meeting #1: Why, What and How To

What is the purpose of this meeting? Why are tennis players invited to speak on the future of pickleball? What is in Seattle Parks’ current plan? How can you help?

Seattle Parks’ first of two public meetings on the future of outdoor pickleball will take place online this coming Wednesday, March 30, at 4:30pm. You can register for it here.

What is the purpose of this meeting?

Seattle Parks purpose is “seeking input from tennis and pickleball players on how we can best support the growth of pickleball.”

There will be a second meeting in April, where Seattle Parks will present the next version of their plan, incorporating your feedback as they see fit.

What will be the format of this online meeting?

At the online meeting, SPR will present their current plan for about 15 minutes. Then there will be a poll for 5 to 10 minutes, followed by breakout rooms for about 20 minutes where you should have a chance to express your views about the plan and anything else you want to say. Each breakout room will have a facilitator that will take notes.

UPDATE: Too many people registered to attend this meeting to have breakout rooms. Use the Zoom chat box instead to make your voice heard if needed.

Why are tennis players invited to speak on the future of pickleball?

Seattle Parks decided that if they were going to continue adding pickleball lines on existing public outdoor tennis courts, they needed to get the tennis community involved. 

What is in Seattle Parks’ current plan?

We’ll find out at the meeting. We expect the current plan to contain:

  1. A new standard for painting pickleball court lines on existing public outdoor tennis courts. Unfortunately, this standard is likely to get us new courts that look a lot like the old ones: with only two pickleball courts per tennis court, even if there is space for more; and with blue pickleball lines, even though yellow lines would be much easier to see.
  2. Possibly a tentative list of new tennis courts that will receive pickleball court lines. Will this list be mostly made of unloved tennis courts? Will it include the outdoor tennis courts located by the community centers? Will we see pickleball courts with decent lights for evening play?
  3. Possible locations for dedicated pickleball courts.
    • Seattle Parks might propose to create dedicated pickleball courts at a few tennis court locations that currently see no school use and very little tennis use. This could be an easy way to get a few dedicated pickleball courts in the near future.  Details unknown.  This is likely to be better than not having any dedicated pickleball courts at all, and to be only a very small part of the pickleball puzzle that needs to be solved.
    • Seattle Parks plan might propose one or more locations for dedicated pickleball courts to be developed in the very long term.

How can I help?

UPDATE: Too many people registered to attend this meeting to have breakout rooms. Use the Zoom chat box instead to make your voice heard if needed.

In the breakout rooms section of the meeting, find a way to ask for one or more of the following:

  1. Ask to have more than 2 pickleball courts per tennis court (See this blog entry to find out why)

SPR opposes this because :

  • it would be too confusing for both tennis and pickleball players
  • it makes it too difficult to rent courts
  • it is not safe

Possible rebuttals:

  • Pickleball players have taped multiple pickleball courts on the middle tennis court at Green Lake and pickleball players are not confused by the lines.  The Seattle Community Center gyms have lines for multiple sports and somehow people manage. Seattle’s public turf fields are all lined for multiple sports in such a way that no lines from a single sport dominate. 
  • Shoreline manages to rent courts at locations where they have more than 2 pickleball courts per tennis courts
  • Edmonds painted lines for 4 pickleball courts on each pickleball court at Yost Park. Shoreline painted lines for 6 pickleball courts on 2 tennis courts at Shoreline Park and Shoreview Park, without this raising any safety concerns.
  • Why should the number of pickleball courts painted at a tennis location be limited by the people who can afford to rent courts?
  1. Ask to have pickleball lines that we can clearly see: Ask for yellow pickleball court lines.

SPR is currently considering this request but is likely to oppose it because:

  • yellow pickleball lines would be too distracting or confusing for tennis players

Possible rebuttals:

  • On all the other multi-sports fields and courts, no sport is privileged over the others. There is no reason to make an exception for tennis players.
  • Tennis players who find the pickleball lines too distracting have the option to go play on one of the many tennis courts that do not have pickleball lines. 
  • Pickleball players should not be treated as second class citizens. Pickleball lines should not be treated as second class lines.
  1. Ask to have pickleball court lines on all the tennis courts located next to community centers.

Seattle Parks is likely to oppose pickleball lines at locations such as Jefferson Park, Rainier Playfield or Rainier Beach because these are “premium” courts in good shape with lights, bathrooms, parking, and water fountains and therefore are in high demand with tennis players.

They might agree to having some pickleball court lines at Meadowbrook and Hiawatha.

  1. Ask to have pickleball courts with decent lights for evening play located in North Seattle, West Seattle, and Southeast Seattle. There is some chance SPR might already provide for this in their plan, in which case it is important that we show support for it so they don’t change their mind.

Seattle Parks will probably oppose this because:

  • the courts with decent lights are also very desirable for tennis players and therefore already heavily used (by tennis players)

Possible Rebuttals:

  • Pickleball players should not be treated as second class citizens.
  • If Seattle Parks doesn’t offer lighted pickleball courts, only pickleball players who have the means to drive out of the city to find lighted courts in places such as Shoreline or Auburn will have access to evening pickleball.
  • Seattle Parks could add new lights to some existing courts that don’t have any and make them available to pickleball players.
  1. Ask to have time reserved for “open play” pickleball on some of the dual use courts.  For instance, “Priority for open play pickleball Monday to Friday, 9am to noon at Delridge courts”

SPR has opposed this in the past because:

  • they want you to pay to reserve the courts for such use.
  • they are invested in the tennis culture of having twosomes or foursomes meeting at a specific time at a specific place, and they would like pickleball players to fit the tennis mold.

Possible rebuttal:

  • SPR already reserves all courts for pickleball open play at specific times at Delridge, Miller and Walt Hundley. These programs are remarkably successful. We want to extend them.
  • Open play fosters community building. This requires several pickleball courts to be available in the same location for several hours.
  • During low usage time, such as during weekday mornings, tennis players have access to several tennis-only courts within a few miles of any existing pickleball courts. Open play pickleball players do not have the same flexibility.

Extra Bonus Points

Ask what the decision process is.

What is going to be done with meeting participants’ input?  Who is going to write the recommendations based on the input? What are their job titles and qualifications? Will a pickleball player representative be included in the process?  Who is going to make a final decision based on the recommendations? What are their job titles and qualifications?   Check out this blog for more information.

Thank you for participating. Please spread the word.